For the past five years, Future of Music Coalition has worked alongside Air Traffic Control — a nonprofit that supports musicians and music managers in their efforts to create positive social change — to improve conditions for New Orleans’ cultural ambassadors.
FMC and ATC’s artist activism retreats in New Orleans bring established and developing musical talent to the Big Easy to talk about ways to incorporate advocacy and philanthropy into their lives and careers. Attendees experience the vibrant culture of New Orleans while talking to residents about efforts to rehabilitate the neighborhoods and communities most affected by Hurricane Katrina.
It’s been incredibly moving to witness the situation in New Orleans improve — especially since our first retreat, which took place not long after Katrina. Thanks to the commitment of groups like Sweet Home New Orleans and others, we’ve seen musicians like the legendary Al “Carnival Time” Johnson, move into new homes after losing everything in the storm. And it’s even more powerful when other musicians are helping to make it happen
But there’s still a lot of work to be done.
To mark the fifth anniversary of the storm and floods ATC set about producing a benefit album, Dear New Orleans. They began by asking the 60 retreat alumni if they’d be interested in donating a track for the compilation. The response was .
Some of the songs that appear on this album are specifically about the city, or the disaster. Others pay a more oblique tribute, and still others are songs that musicians played live at the concert that closes each retreat. Proceeds will go to New Orleans-based nonprofits that work to support and sustain region’s unique musical and cultural traditions and restore vital environment and community resources for future generations.
We’re talking some heavy hitters, too! The album features such artists as My Morning Jacket, OK Go, Indigo Girls, Steve Earle, Nellie McKay, Bonnie ’Prince‘ Billy, Nicole Atkins, Mike Mills, Bonerama, Tom Morello: The Nightwatchman, Flobots, The Wrens and more.
Dear New Orleans includes the original OK Go song “Louisiana Land,” a narrative born out of the band’s time spent in the Big Easy, Nicole Atkins and Bonerama’s horn-powered version of Led Zeppelin’s “When the Levee Breaks,” My Morning Jacket and The Preservation Hall Jazz Band’s live cover of Al Johnson’s Mardi Gras anthem “Carnival Time” and The Wrens’ “Crescent,” an early mix from the band’s forthcoming album — their first since 2003!
The compilation will be available tomorrow (Tuesday, Aug. 24) at all major online retailers. You can also reserve your copy here: www.dearno.la. And check out this notice in Rolling Stone while you’re at it.
To mark the occasion, DC-area folks can pop by the Science Club tomorrow (Aug. 24) from 5:30 PM to 7:30 PM for a listening party. Science Club is located at 1136 19th St NW, Washington, DC — click here to RSVP and get directions.
Hope to see you there!